November 2009
By Travis Persaud

It’s not often you’ll find scores of hipsters waiting expectantly for the next classical opus to land in record stores. Todor Kobakov may change that. The classical pianist has arranged music for indie royalty, including Stars and Emily Haines, and co-founded Toronto rock band Major Maker ― but Pop Music is the first release bearing his name.

After years in the indie scene, Kobakov returns to his first love on this beautifully haunting album, and he hopes it will expose the depth of classical music to his peers. “Most of us have iPods and our attention spans don’t allow us to listen to a two-hour concerto, so I made sure the songs were between three and five minutes,” he explains.

Kobakov’s optimism for transforming the stuffy appearance of the classical genre goes beyond the album’s time constraints. He plays wherever a piano fits and breaks the structure of a traditional recital. “I’m uncomfortable with the distance between the performer and the audience,” he explains. “It seems exclusive for privileged people. So I’ll try to have an intimate performance where I feel I’m hanging out with everyone.”

Of course, having Haines and TV On the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe as guest vocalists doesn’t hurt Kobakov’s pursuit to bring his classical offerings to unexpected realms. “I wanted guests who understood the project; not just invite people because they’re going to help my career,” he says. “There’s no mediocrity or fakeness in this album, it’s just an honest representation of me.”